Onwards! And by that I mean backwards! To the rear of the car, that is. The last thing that needed attention was the diff:
Not a pretty sight at all, the pass. side output flange seal appears to be toast. However, from the looks of the plugs the diff hadn't been touched in a long time, possibly not since it was installed in 10/88. I was pressed for time so I decided to just top up the fluid. It was only down about 200mL, so unless it started leaking very recently it's not a huge deal, especially since I doubt I'll be keeping a 4.10 open diff after I get the M30 installed. I changed the diff fluid a few weeks later and it was . . . interesting. I drained it into a shallow white pan; normally I can shine a light up through the bottom and see if there's any filings or other crap suspended in the oil. But the old gear oil was impenetrable. It was less than an inch deep in the pan but my 2 million candlepower spotlight was powerless against it. Then I put a strong magnet against the bottom of the pan and watched a halo of bright filings form around it. Moving it around made a silver comet form in the dark brown oil. Too bad I couldn't get a decent video of the effect, it was as cool as it was disturbing.
Speaking of disturbing, here are some more glamour shots of the underside:
And now the narrative has caught up with the present time. I'm not quite sure what I'll be doing with this car; clearly it needs a complete suspension refresh, new shocks, springs, struts, and every conceivable bushing.
However . . . I haven't decided if I'm going to do 5-lug swap or just bring it back to new oem spec. 5-lug would be a fun project in itself, and big brakes would be nice to have along with a big motor. OTOH, there's the reality that I live in Saskatchewan and with the exception of freeway onramps this car will never see curves worth mentioning. New stock suspension bits would be a huge improvement and give me all the handling I'd realistically ever need, but of course replacing stock parts would be much less satisfying than modding the crap out of something. So, still undecided.
Either way, a suspension refresh is not something I'm going to attempt on a car I need as a daily driver . . . let's just say I've learned the hard way that projects like that have a way of taking way more time than I think they will, especially on old neglected vehicles. I had to promise my gf I'd never again do anything more involved than changing fluids unless I had another complete, running, plated vehicle to drive if things went awry. In return, she promised to not kill me in my sleep over this specific issue. She reserves the right to do so for unrelated offenses
And finally, if I were going to the trouble to r&r the entire bloody suspension, it would be convenient to do that at the same time as the engine and tranny swap . . . and if the drivetrain as well as the suspension were removed, well hell you couldn't pick a better time to cut out the rust, weld in patch panels, finish and repaint everything.. And then there's the exhaust . . . of course if I did all that it wouldn't be right to keep it as a winter beater, so I'd have to get another one of those . . .